Authorities investigate whether German travellers lied before boarding flight to Melbourne

Authorities are investigating whether two travellers from Germany may have lied to officials which led to them forgoing hotel quarantine in Sydney, boarding a domestic flight to Melbourne on Saturday and sparking a warning more than 100 passengers to isolate immediately.

Victorian Health Officials on Saturday night confirmed the travellers on Virgin Australia flight VA838 had somehow skipped mandatory hotel quarantine and boarded the flight to Melbourne where Victorian authorities stopped them.

The pair of travellers have been tested for COVID-19 and the results are expected on Saturday.

All passengers on the flight, which left Sydney at midday Saturday and arrived in Melbourne at 1.25pm, were all texted late on Saturday night to inform them they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and to stay home until further contact.

NSW Health have referred the matter to police, who are now conducting inquiries into whether the passengers supplied false information to authorities.

The health department is also deferring all questions about the handling of the matter to NSW Police. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard declined to comment.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday morning said he had directed Border Force to investigate the matter, but claimed the pair were detected by a “failsafe” within the border control system.

"There are multiple rings of containment within the quarantine and border system and, ultimately, these passengers have been picked up within those rings of containment," he said on Sky news.

“But frankly we want to make sure that every ring is impregnable, and so we have asked the Border Force Commissioner to work with NSW on understanding the circumstances.”

Melbourne man David, who did not wish to use his last name due to fear of stigma from possible exposure to the virus, said while everyone was wearing a mask on the flight, the plane was almost full.

"It was, for all intents and purposes, a normal busy flight," he said. "Apart from the masks there was no difference."

David, who travelled up on Friday to Sydney for a work Christmas party and travelled back with his wife and a colleague on Saturday, said his flights both ways were busy.

“It was packed. There were very few empty seats. I was quite surprised, both flights were jammed packed [with] three people to each row."

David said his wife read news stories about the potential virus exposure before he saw the text message.

"My wife saw the article first, I hadn’t opened my phone and suffice to say there was a lot of colourful words said," he said.

"My colleague rang up and… basically there was a lot of 'for f***s sake."

The Victorian health department late on Saturday night confirmed that the two international travellers were now in mandatory quarantine in Victoria.

Victoria's Health Minister Martin Foley said on Saturday night the government was aware of the situation and that the travellers who were stopped at Melbourne Airport will now spend their two weeks in quarantine here.

"I've spoken to (NSW Health) Minister Hazzard to seek an explanation as to how it was that the security arrangements at Sydney Airport saw the two passengers avoid their hotel quarantine obligations in Sydney and travel to Melbourne," Mr Foley said on Saturday evening

"He has assured me a full investigation will be completed so it cannot occur again."

The Victorian Health department also advised anyone who had been to the Melbourne Airport domestic terminal on Saturday afternoon to monitor for any symptoms and get tested if they appear.

According to the Johns Hopkins University global coronavirus tally, Germany has more than 1.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and has seen more than 18,000 related deaths.

There were nearly 16,000 cases and 480 deaths recorded in Germany in the past day alone.

The saga comes just as Melbourne prepares to begin receiving international travellers again on Monday after a five-month pause. Victoria suspended all international arrivals after genomic testing found the state's deadly second wave of COVID-19 stemmed from a leak in mandatory hotel quarantine.

The Victorian Department of Health and Office for the Minister for Health have both been contacted for comment.

with David Estcourt

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